CASSELTON, N.D.-Well, Central Cass tried. Mother Nature had other plans.
Central Cass scheduled 14 high school and college softball games, featuring 12 teams, including the Squirrels, Friday and Saturday at its new facility. The idea was to help teams get their season going with its all-turf field.
"Obviously, because of the field, because of the turf, we've had people contacting us and asking about games," said Central Cass athletic director Travis Lemar. "With all the games in our region getting cancelled, I reached out to some of the coaches and asked if they'd be willing to come over. Everyone was all for it. I just sat down and put together a schedule that incorporated everybody."
Mayville State was going to play Bellevue (Neb.) and Dickinson State for college action, while Hankinson, Enderlin-Maple Valley, Northern Cass, Kindred-Richland, Hillsboro-Central Valley, Central Cass, Thompson, Fargo North and West Fargo were each going to get a season opener.
Nope. All of those games were cancelled because temperatures were not expected to break the 30-degree mark. The Squirrels will try something similiar again Friday, April 20, and Saturday, April 21-with Central Cass being paid $150 per game to rent its facility.
"The big concern this weekend is the warranty on the bats," Lemar said. "Bats are warrantied for 50 degrees. You use a bat in cold weather and it gets damaged then you're out $350 per bat. Of course, there's also the safety of the girls. Anytime it's colder out there there's more chance of getting injured. We're itching to get out there, but we're really making sure we don't hinder the future of the field and our girls out there."
Last October, Central Cass received a donation of $1 million mainly to build a new softball field on school property. The Squirrels had always played softball at an off-site location, but they now have-in addition to the all-turf field-new grandstands and new dugouts on campus.
And Mother Nature has yet to let the Squirrels play a game on Kost Field.
"It's been tough," Lemar said. "The girls are itching to get out there and so are the coaches."
Moorhead has had three indoor track and field meets and one tennis match, while softball has scrimmaged indoors at St. Cloud State and plans to start a full schedule next week on the football field turf. Baseball and golf is a different story.
"This spring is not as unique as people think," said Moorhead athletic director Dean Haugo. "With the additions of things such as turf and additional indoor track facilities in the area, the challenges have decreased over the last handful of years.
"The sports with the biggest challenge thus far have been baseball and golf. We are hoping to find somewhere to play a baseball game in the next week. ... Our golf teams are fortunate and have been able to use the new simulation machine at the Moorhead Country Club, but they have yet been able to get outside."
Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton has had three indoor track meets as well, while baseball and softball have remained indoors and golf is yet to start.
"Right now, I'm guessing we need a week to melt and another for frost," D-G-F athletic director Joe O'Keefe said. "The biggest help would be getting snow off just so we can practice outside. We have all these groups competing for space. We need teams outside. We have had bad springs before, but mostly because they were wet, so we could still be outside, and they are typically straightened out within the first couple weeks of April. Not sure when that will happen this year. Some are predicting May 1. We will see."
Todd Olson, who is the director of student activities at Fargo Public Schools, says nothing drastic will happen until at least next week.
"I don't think there will be any decisions made until we see what next week brings," Olson said. "I don't anticipate that there will be any rules changes. Unfortunately, every five or six years we seem to have a late spring. I don't think there is anything that has made this one any worse than any of the other late springs we've had in the past. We'll have a spring season. It will just be shorter than we'd like."
The Minnesota State High School recently made rule changes to make doubleheaders shorter and scheduling officials easier by not requiring two registered officials at softball and baseball games. North Dakota High School Activities Association already has those rules in place.
"I think any changes that happen won't be rule changes, but more revamping region and conference schedules and that'd be up to athletic directors," NDHSAA executive director Matt Fetsch said. "The worst spring a lot of us can remember was 2013. I'm pretty certain the first outdoor game in the state was April 29, so we're still two-and-a-half weeks from that, and we've had some games played. The last four springs have been very nice and unseasonably warm early on, so that would explain the frustration this year."